Dawn Brookes Publishing

Publishing Topics by author Dawn Brookes

Tag: Indie authors

Writing a Great Book Outline

Writing a Great Book Outline and Writing to Target

I have recently finished my very first debut novel so don’t consider myself an expert on this but I was greatly helped by using a system for writing the book. This system kept me to time and was just what I needed. The system I used I have adapted from one I learned from a course on Udemy called Reverse Engineer Riveting Fiction

The first thing I need to say is that I did veer off but not hugely and you will see what I mean when I explain it.

Storyline

Obviously before you can develop a plan there needs to be a story in your head. My story evolved but I had the basics of the plot before I started writing.

I had a main character (initially it was 2), sub-characters important to the plot, a scene (set on a cruise ship), a theme – murder mystery (initially thriller but turned out to be cosy as I don’t do graphic), a beginning, a middle and an end (I had two in mind).

Word Count

The next thing was to decide on a rough word count. There is some debate over words needed but in general they are as follows:

Word Counts are not written in stone

Depending on what you read there are different opinions on how long a book should be so I have gathered a few together but they are just guides. Publishers will have minimum and maximum word counts for different books and generally frown on shorter novels and those that are too long.

  • Novel 40,000 words or over (generally 60,000 for mystery, 90,000+ for non-series novel). Some authors and publishers recommend 50,000+ with a maximum of 120,000 but Harry Potter and the order of the Phoenix is over 250,000 words!
  • Young Adult 40,000 to 80,000 words
  • Biography & general non-fiction 50,000 to 120,000 words
  • Memoir & self-help 40,000 to 90,000 words
  • Novella 17,500 to 39,999
  • Novellette 7,500 to 17,499
  • Chapter books for children start at 16,000
  • Short story under 7,500
  • Flash fiction 500 to 1,000 words
  • Children’s picture books 400 to 800 words (some of mine are 1,200)

Splitting the Story

Splitting the word count to write the book

In my case I opted for 56,000 words (it has ended up being nearer the 60,000). As this was my first novel and I wanted to keep to time, I decided to aim for the same number of words per chapter using a table system.

The book had to have a beginning, a middle and an end and I wanted tension to build until the climax so this had to be factored in.

The grid or table includes the number of chapters split into one quarter for the beginning, one half for the middle and one quarter for the end. These quarters are then divided into 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and so on, depending on how long the book will be and how many chapters you want to include.

So for example for a 60,000 word book using a 6 grid system 6 x 4 or 24 chapters.

60,000/24 = 2,500 words per chapter (guide only, can be flexible)

There would need to be 6 chapters in section 1, 12 in section 2 and 6 in section 3

In this example there will need to be at least 24 chapters of 2,500 words each split into sections.

I outlined each of the chapters with points that would be included in each, building on the story and adding tension as the story developed. By the halfway stage the tension was building and by three quarters it was higher with no resolution in sight. The final quarter then built on that tension but arrived at resolution.

Writing in this way kept me to time 

I used 56,000 with the 5 grid system 5 x 4 or 20 chapters 

56,000/20 = 2,800 words per chapter.

Writing the outline for each of those chapters helped me meet the target of writing the 2,800 per day. I didn’t stick to 20 chapters and have ended up with over 30 but that didn’t matter. The system helped me write the required number of words per day because I knew what I wanted to include in each of those grids.

Writing at a slower pace or writing more words

If you want to write at a slower pace you can write half the amount per day e.g. 1,400

If you want to write a much higher word count you will want to choose a higher number of grids resulting in more chapters. For example:

9 grid system 9 x 4 = 36

100,000/36 = 2,778 (give or take) words per day or half if you want to write slower

Conclusion

This is a system that has helped me and I hope that it helps you. If you want to learn more about this system check out Reverse Engineer Riveting Fiction by Geoff Shaw where he explains it much better and outlines plot building within the system.

Cosy Mysteries

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Literature Festivals

Literature Festivals

For years people have been saying that we are living in a post-literate society and many people claim that Donald Trump is the first post-literate president. The argument is supported by the amount of television people are reported to watch. A recent article in the Mail Online suggests that the average Brit watches 24 hours television per week which equates to ten years of adult life in front of the box!

Reading Declines during Secondary School

The BBC reported that a recent survey by the National Literacy Trust found that after leaving primary school, enjoyment of reading declines- particularly among boys but also among girls.

Having said that, they also found in a survey conducted in 2016 that reading for pleasure was gradually increasing among 8-16 year olds. Girls read a bit more than boys but, for the first time, reading does not appear to be influenced by social background according the report. White children are less likely to enjoy reading than black or mixed ethnic backgrounds and Asian children are the most likely group to enjoy reading.

Why Literature Festivals

When Derby introduced a literature festival a few years ago, I was excited and it has proved to be a very popular yearly event engaging people from all over Derbyshire and further afield. Literature festivals raise the profile of books and reading and the popularity of the Derby festival can only be seen as positive in that respect.

My only reservation is that it tends to be aimed at main-stream publishing and can work out to be quite expensive. Having said that, I am delighted that it is thriving as it raises the profile of books as well as being good for Derby. The festival is held in June each year and attracts a host of famous authors. Tickets tend to be over £12 each making it difficult for an average family to visit more than one event.

Indie authors, to date, have not been invited to participate in any way. Indie authors who are self-published now form a large part of the marketplace, particularly in relation to ebook sales and have become much more professional in approach over the past ten years thanks to organisations such as the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi). Initially there may have been some authors who did not pay due diligence to their text and editing but anyone trying to publish sub-standard books learns a harsh lesson very quickly. Mainstream publishing still turns it’s nose up at Indies’ but readers less so. If I want to read a good book, I don’t look to see if the publisher is mainstream. I read the description on the back or online if I am purchasing an ebook. If the book turns out to be poor quality inside (be it mainstream or indie) I will not read a book by that author again! So indie or non-indie, I want a good book that is well formatted and not littered with mistakes as do the majority so personally, I don’t care whether a book is traditionally published or self published.

Oakwood Literature Festival

At the turn of the year I began thinking about hosting a literature festival in my local area to engage local people with authors and reading. I asked about this on the ALLi forum and discovered that many of my fellow Indies were doing just that. Although the majority were charging and therefore paying authors to attend which is perfectly reasonable, I wanted to provide an event free of charge. One of the leading lights of ALLi, Debbie Young does just this at the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival which has been running for five years and has grown exponentially. I have decided to follow this model and the first Oakwood Literature Festival will be held on Saturday 12th May 2018 in the Community Centre in Oakwood!

I am delighted that, although this is on a very small scale for the first event (as the money is initially coming out of my pocket!) I have managed to engage some excellent authors who are all willing to give their time for free!

Activities on the day

As well as four talks by panels of authors and author readings in the main hall, there will be a bookshop cafe, a prize raffle and tombola. The cafe will be a Narnia themed cafe as I feel I am stepping through a wardrobe into an unknown land!

Authors Attending

The authors attending come from a variety of backgrounds and write in various genres including historical fiction, women’s fiction, thrillers, fantasy fiction, non-fiction and children’s fiction so there is something for everyone.

You will be able to find out more about each author attending on the main website but for the first year we have:

Debbie Young who will be launching the first festival and chairing a couple of panels. Debbie writes cosy mysteries, short stories and non-fiction

Myself, Dawn Brookes and I write nurse memoirs, children’s books and will shortly be launching my own murder mystery novel

AA Abbott who writes suspense thrillers and dyslexia friendly books

Celia Boyd who was born in Derby and writes historical fiction

David Ebsworth who writes historical fiction

Kate Frost who writes women’s fiction and YA fiction

Paul Gaskill who is a Derby author and writes YA fantasy fiction

John Lynch who writes historical fiction and is a ghostwriter

David Robertson who writes children’s books

Conclusion

All being well, the Oakwood Literature Festival will become an annual event and will grow. My vision is that it will be able to support itself through sponsorship and the cafe and I would love it to become a yearly, family friendly event held annually in Oakwood across all of the main venues that we have within a half mile radius of each other. For this year though, space is limited but we hope to put on a great day free at the point of entry like the NHS that I loved and worked for for over thirty-nine years!

Image at top of page courtesy of Pixabay under Creative Commons License

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Writing: Lessons I Learned from Writing My Memoirs – A Case Study

Writing: Lessons I Learned from Writing My Memoirs – A Case Study

Dawn Brookes, British nurse, shares what she’s learned from writing two memoirs
photo of Dawn Brookes

Thinking of writing and self-publishing a memoir? Get off to a flying start by reading this case study by ALLi author member Dawn Brookes, who shares the benefit of her experience gained from her two self-published memoirs containing stories from her early nursing career.

 

Why I Wrote My Nursing Memoirs

I started the first memoir while working full time as a community matron in Derbyshire. Initially I was writing for myself and for future generations who might want to explore family history. I became determined as I remembered the patients from those early days, I wanted their brave stories to be told, and I was remembering the fun and camaraderie of nursing in the 1970s.

Progress was slow going as I had hardly any spare time.

Set Back by Lost Work

In 2014 my computer crashed, and the hard drive was irreparably damaged. I lost the majority of the memoir. At that point, I gave up. Work was too busy and I began to doubt the value of writing it. I had major things going on in my life, as I was about to semi-retire and work part-time. I forgot about the book.

Broken Bones

As published in Alli blog

Hurry Up Nurse – the first instalment

Fate conspired to remind me about the memoir when, following a fall, I broke my foot in three places and ended up in plaster. I was confined to the house and bored out of my brains – when I remembered!

I was able to concentrate on one thing, in one place and I completed the work in seven weeks.

The most challenging part for me was developing patients’ stories without identifying them due to confidentiality.

I had to change things around a bit and mix up details while remaining true to the facts.

Mistakes Made & Lessons Learned

cover of book 2

And the first sequel (More are in the pipeline)

I made a whole load of mistakes in August 2016.

The biggest mistake was not having the manuscript proofread, although I had read it numerous times and   asked a few friends to read it, we were all too wrapped up in the story and missed the numerous grammatical errors.

The next mistake I made was joining the Amazon Advantage programme. I ordered 200 books. The pricing of memoirs is relatively low at £7.99. I had sensibly had the book cover designed by a graphic designer, and the Kindle book formatted and converted by a professional. I published the book on Kindle.

The orders were coming in from Amazon Advantage, but I was posting books to their warehouses all around the UK, wasting time at the post office.

It was costing more money than I was making!

The next major faux pas was when I read the book and noticed an error on the second page. I was learning a harsh lesson. In spite of this, complete strangers were reviewing the book favourably – even on Goodreads it was getting three stars! This encouraged me that the content was at least readable. I found ALLi’s Debbie Young via a blog post, and she kindly agreed to read the book. Debbie was encouraging about the content and gentle with her advice.

I bit the bullet and hired a proofreader which was the best thing I could have done.

Corrections

I was able to correct the mistakes for the Kindle version, but the print book was more difficult. I had sold about 90 books when I decided it was time to cut my losses and do a reprint.

I realised that the Advantage programme was not right, and I moved the book to Createspace after a few emails to Amazon Advantage.

Change, Change, Change

The beauty of spending decades working in the NHS is that constant change requires flexibility which is vital, and I applied those skills to publishing.

The second memoir flowed better because my writing had improved.

Also,

  • I found it easier to mix up events and personalities to protect confidentiality.
  • The whole publishing process was much simpler.
  • I learned how to format books for kindle and epub and for print too, which saved me money.
  • This money was spent on proofing and editing the second memoir.
  • I saved a fortune by using print on demand.

More Memoirs to Follow

With lessons learned and readers requesting more, there is likely to be another memoir or two in the future. I still have around eighty print copies of my first book if anyone wants one – as long as they don’t mention the grammar!

Newspaper cutting

Celebrated as a success story in Derby local paper.

OVER TO YOU If you’ve learned lessons from writing a memoir, do you have top tips to add to Dawn’s list? We’d love to hear them!

As published on Alliance of Independent Authors blog   26/10/2017

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Nursing biography published & goodbye to the London Chest Hospital

Nursing Biography Published & goodbye to the London Chest Hospital

I finally finished the second book in the Hurry up Nurse series. I must admit that I enjoyed writing this one just as much as I did the first. It takes place in London and brought back wonderful memories of working at the London Chest Hospital. This post is written with fond memories and gladness that I have finished my second nursing biography but tainted by a tinge of sadness at having to say goodbye to the London Chest Hospital.

Bittersweet

Whilst writing the book I discovered that the wonderful London Chest Hospital that has stood for over a hundred years and survived bomb damage in the Second World War has now been closed and like so many old hospitals, it is soon to become modern housing. I was pleased to see that after much campaigning by the residents in the area, that some of the older features will remain and be incorporated into the new build.

The grounds also featured one of the East End’s oldest Mulberry Trees – I believe permission was granted for its removal by the developers. The tree stood beside the chapel which was destroyed in a bombing raid in World War 2. It will be transplanted but is unlikely to survive the move, it makes you want to cry.

London Chest Hospital

nursing biography

London Chest Hospital 1980

Situated in Bethnal Green, the hospital cornerstone was laid by Prince Albert in 1851 and it opened in 1855. It was principally a respiratory hospital for its first fifty years. Victorian England was rife with what was known as consumption (TB) and the hospital was a Godsend for people living in the overly populated and poverty stricken East End.

Later on heart treatments were introduced and when I worked there from 1980-1982 it was a cardio-thoracic hospital with pioneering heart surgery and cancer chemotherapy taking place. TB was still quite common and new treatments were given to patients to try to stop the spread of the disease.

My book refers to many of these treatments and my experiences of working at this wonderful hospital.

The hospital hit the headlines in 2012 when a consultant cardiologist from the hospital, who was attending the match, resuscitated the footballer Fabrice Muamba, who was subsequently admitted there.

Cardio-thoracic nursing

The hospital specialised in cardio-thoracic nursing and I was there to do a post-qualifying training course which lasted a year. The course was certified by what was then, the Joint Board of Clinical Nursing Studies or JBCNS for short. JBCNS validated and certified post-qualification training until 1984 when it was disbanded.

The training involved rotating through various specialisms including: chest medicine, chest surgery, coronary care, cardiac medicine, cardiac surgery.

In the early 1980s medicine was advancing at a rate as cancer chemotherapy and cardiac surgery were developing. London hospitals were often at the forefront of new treatments and this was certainly my experience.

HIV & AIDs were yet to come, first emerging in the USA in 1981. Although scientists believe the disease was present in humans much earlier – I didn’t come across the disease until the mis 1980s after I had left the London Chest Hospital.

Conclusion

Nursing biography

A nurse’s account of working at the London Chest Hospital

 

So it is with sadness that I say goodbye to my beloved London Chest Hospital but I hope that this memoir and others will help to keep its legacy alive. I wish the Bethnal Green campaigners every success with protecting as much of this historic building and its grounds as possible.

Buy Now Paperback

Buy Now Kindle

 

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7 Habits authors should develop in order to become better writers

7 Habits Authors Need to Develop in order to become better writers

Introduction

Successful authors are like successful people in all areas of life, they do things in common that contribute very much to their success. So how can we learn from such authors in order to help with our own success? This article will suggest 7 habits authors need to develop in order to become better writers.

We can start by developing good habits. This article outlines 7 good habits that potential authors may find helps them break through writing barriers.

 

Habit 1: Write about something that brings out your passion

Whether writing fiction or non-fiction, it is important to write about something you are passionate about. Most successful authors have an emotional connection to their content or story. If you write fiction, it might be worth writing from a place of emotional familiarity. A genuine experience will come through in the writing that helps readers to connect with the story. If you are writing in the non-fiction genre, it is important to choose a topic you are passionate or enthusiastic about. A subject that you are knowledgeable about obviously helps and thorough research is required. Authors devote a lot of time to their writing, therefore you should include passion, sentiment and enthusiasm.

Habit 2: Step outside of your comfort zone

You can afford to experiment when you write. This is particularly true of fiction; you can develop characters that are blown up out of all proportion if you want to. The characters can go way beyond what you would do in real life and they can take risks. Your characters can make decisions that we would not have the courage to make in our own lives. After all, it’s not about what we would do, it’s about allowing our imagination to develop a character that enables our readers to take notice.

When writing non-fiction, it may be that for you, it’s time to speak out. Take a view and stand by it, presenting the case with confidence. It doesn’t matter if the view is controversial, in fact you may attract more readers by being controversial. People tend to listen to someone who is clear in their views. You can be brave in your writing and don’t be afraid of criticism.

Habit 3: Plan & Outline

Developing a plan is probably the most important part of writing a book. Planning is essential part of success. You will find it much easier to finish a book if you take the time to plan the story.  at The more planning you do, the more enjoyable and structured the writing procedure will be.

Whether you are self publishing or traditionally publishing, treat your plan as if you were having to write it for a publisher. Include chapter outlines and a brief synopsis of what each chapter will contain. If you are writing fiction include details about the protagonist and what their hopes and dreams are. There will also be an antagonist who seeks to stop the hero/s from achieving their dream.

Habit 4: Write every day (or most days)

There will be times when you are not in the mood, but if you treat writing like any other job you must commit yourself to writing. By all means take a break, sometimes you may want to use your phone or an audio-device to make a change. Many successful authors write every day, including Christmas Day, although this might be a bit extreme, even authors deserve holidays. However you achieve this, it is important that writers write because that is what they do.

Habit 5: Work at it

Being a successful author involves hard work, there are deadlines to meet, promotional commitments and other marketing activities. Some authors are prolific writers and publish many books in a year, others produce one or two but either way it is hard work. An author has to work hard to get noticed among the thousands upon thousands of others out there. Once your name is established it is a bit easier because you have a following but you will still need to work hard to produce more books. No matter what way you look at it, if you dislike hard work, you will not be a successful author.

Habit 6: Perseverance

Almost every successful author has found that their success is due to perseverance and determination. It is not unusual if going down the traditional publishing route to have agents reject work and if this is the case, unless it needs a rewrite, submit it again to someone else. It is a well known fact that J.K Rowling was turned down by numerous publishers before the first Harry Potter novel was picked up by Bloomsbury. There is rarely overnight success in writing but if it happens to you, enjoy the ride. Authors that succeed are those who keep knocking on doors until they do. It’s not easy but don’t ever give up unless your own mother tells you she wouldn’t buy your book! Those who have never failed have never tried.

Habit 7: Keep Writing

When you have finally written your book and have either submitted it for publication, or self published it, move on to the next one. If you’ve done the best you can with your work and it is the best it can be you need to trust that it will draw the readers you hoped for. Regardless of whether your work has been accepted or rejected, keep writing. Once you finish one manuscript, have a short break if you need to and then start on another. If the one you’ve sent is picked up, the agent will be happy that you’ve got something else in the pipeline, and if not you’re well on your way to finishing your next manuscript. If you self publish, once your work has been proofread, edited and published you will follow the same principle of moving on with the next project. You will have the additional burden of marketing which is why some self published authors don’t publish until they have a series ready to market and then they drip feed those books onto the market.

 

Conclusion

In this post I have discussed 7 habits that authors should develop in order to become better writers. These seven habits will help any would be author to develop good writing habits. This article hasn’t really discussed the marketing aspect of writing a book because that is another subject that every author needs to be aware of whether they are going to be traditionally published or self published. The writing habits discussed in this article are aimed at encouraging writers to develop sustainable practices. Anyone can and probably should write one book but being a writer requires a bit more perseverance, good habits and perhaps a bit of luck.

Dawn Brookes is the author of Hurry up Nurse:  Memoirs of nurse training in the 1970s and Hurry up Nurse 2: London calling, as well as Children’s books and property investment books. For more information about Dawn Brookes visit the website.

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